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Lesson Plan

Inside or Outside? A Minilesson on Quotation Marks and More

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Inside or Outside? A Minilesson on Quotation Marks and More

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 50 minutes
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Instruction & Activities

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • explore conventions for using quotation marks and other punctuation marks in written dialogue.

  • examine their own writing closely using a self-editing activity.

  • work toward their own empowerment as writers by correcting their own writing.

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Instruction & Activities

  1. Go over the general rules on using quotation marks with other punctuation marks. Pay particular attention to the rules governing whether periods, commas, semi-colons, question marks, exclamation points, and so forth go inside or outside the quotation marks.

  2. Read an overhead or computer-projected copy of the dialogue example with your class. Alternately, you can use a student example (with the student's permission, of course) or a passage from a book you've read recently as a class.

  3. Using the guidelines from your textbook, work through the example text to demonstrate how to punctuate the sentences.

  4. Ask students to choose a narrative or another piece of writing that includes dialogue to examine for their use of quotation marks.

  5. Have students go through their papers backwards (that is, from the last word of the text to the first), and underline or circle all the ending punctuation for dialogue.

  6. Once their text is marked, ask them to go through the text again, this time checking the punctuation in the circles to see if the conventions are being used. Ask students to revise as they go, moving or adding punctuation as necessary.

  7. Allow students to work at their own pace, using the instructions and their own text.

  8. Circulate through the room, helping any students who have questions or comments.

  9. Collect the highlighted draft with the revised draft.

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  • Kidwatching provides the perfect assessment for this activity. As you circulate throught the room, note which students understand the concepts and which need more practice. Provide on-the-spot help for any students who need more examples or instruction.

  • More formal assessment of the use of quotation marks in the narrative, if you choose to include it, works best as a part of the assessment of the paper itself.

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